During the reign of the Shungas, a big stupa was constructed at Bharhut. The stupa no longer exists but one of the gateways and a portion of the railings that surrounded it have survived.

The remains are now lodged in the Indian Museum at Kolkata. The railing is made of red sandstone and has sculptures relating to Buddha’s life and the Jataka stories. The episodes have been captioned at the bottom.

The Sanchi stupa built by Asoka was enlarged with the addition of four gateways to the enclosure. The gateways are once again full of sculptures depicting incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jataka stories.

Although they are similar in content to the ones found in Bharhut, they are superior in construction. The human figures are much more realistic and varied. The sculptures at Sanchi and Bharhut give an insight into the life and times of the people.


An inscription dated in the twelfth year of the Shunga king, Bhagavata, has been discovered at Bhilsa. It is on a fragment of a stone pillar and mentions the erection of a flag-staff in the most important temple at Bhilsa (Besnagar) in honour of Lord Vishnu.

There is another inscription on the Garuda Pillar dated in the fourteenth year of king Bhagabhadra.

According to the inscription, it was set up by a Greek ambassador, Heliodorus, to honour Lord Vishnu. Because the date of the Shunga king Bhagavata reign and that of the Garuda Pillar coincide, it is inferred that the king Bhagabhadra mentioned in the inscription is none other than Bhagavata Shunga.

The Besnagar inscription show- that Indian culture had succeeded in influencing the Greeks and that the Indo-Greek kings were on friendly terms with the Shungas.